75 years of Moto Guzzi

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75 years of Moto Guzzi

75 years of Moto Guzzi
The emperor’s new eagle

30,000 Moto Guzzi fans witnessed the rebirth of a motorcycle brand at the 75th anniversary celebration in Mandello del Lario.

Michael Schafer


Happy news reached the festival community: on her 75th birthday, the jubilee was doing better than it had been for a long time.

A new management had finally given the ailing grande dame of European motorcycle construction a new impetus and courage to live. Another good reason to have a great party. The jump over intoxicating bends in the Alps into the country where the lemons bloom can be done in one day from half of Europe. But that’s not the only reason why the biennial Guzzi meetings in Mandello were always well attended during the years of agony. Guzzi fans stick to their brand, in good and bad days. The anniversary celebration, which was pushed in out of sequence this year, broke all records. 30,000 well-wishers came to Mandello del Lario on the east bank of Lake Como on September 14th and 15th. 13,000 motorcycles were counted, including a good 7,000 Moto Guzzi, rattling and roaring through the streets of the town. It was noticeable that most of the classic pre- and post-war single-cylinder units had been restored as finely as if they had just left the assembly line. The Italian Guzzists in particular have a refreshingly carefree approach to the younger V-Twins. Apparently only the engines of their Ratbikes, California »Electra Glides« or »Softails« come from Guzzi. It was clear that many anniversary guests would come from Germany. They were also easy to recognize by their mostly standard machines and opened BMW system helmets. But the fact that they provided two thirds of the birthday guests on Saturday evening came as a surprise. German was the colloquial language in Mandello. A circumstance that the plant management had foreseen, which is why Sibylle Length was commissioned by the Moto Guzzi specialist Moto Spezial in Gomadingen on the Swabian Alb to organize the meeting. As so often before, the Guzzi drivers turned out to be a peaceful family, and the grandiose traffic jams during motorcycle cruising on the Via Parodi in front of the factory premises, which is closed to traffic, consequently provoked neither anger nor stress, but something that was always happier “Hello” and “Ciao”. The festival reached its climax on Sunday morning, when the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi made an honorary visit to the oldest motorcycle factory in Europe. While his column of cool bodyguards and nervous policemen made their way to the factory entrance from the right, “Nero”, a Guzzi enthusiast on a Roman chariot pulled by two Moto Guzzi-Galetto scooters, pushed through the crowd from the left and used it to fabricate Indescribable confusion Prodi’s subsequent reception in the factory turned out to be a bit cool because the mayor of Mandello del Lario, Giorgio Siani, openly sympathizes with the Lega Nord, which wants to split off the more prosperous north of the country from the poor south. Prodi, on the other hand, is firmly committed to the unity of the country. But the scandal did not materialize. Motorcycles are simply not suitable for politics – and on the 75th birthday of the motorcycle brand, which began its existence in the spring of 1921 with the series production of the 500 cubic centimeter single cylinder “Normale”, there were also more important things for the 30,000 visitors. There were two things to celebrate: that Moto Guzzi has now turned 75. And that the brand with the eagle as an emblem, which the founders Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi had chosen as a trademark in 1919 in memory of their dead aviator friend Giovanni Ravelli, had a happy start into a likely successful future on September 15, 1996. 75 years is and will remain a long time. And things come together when a company has been producing motorcycles for three quarters of a century: Hundreds of thousands of Moto Guzzi have been shipped all over the world since 1921 from the small train station in Mandello del Lario, directly opposite the factory. The technical development of the Moto Guzzi types almost always followed two completely opposing principles over the years: On the one hand, the Guzzi engineers were characterized by an unbelievable perseverance at one time for well-approved technical solutions that were cultivated over decades and became a trademark. So the longitudinally lying cylinders and the exposed flywheels of the singles, which were built in series from 1921 to 1976, later the 90-degree V-2 engines from V7 from 1967, which are still being built today. Open end. At the other extreme is Moto Guzzi’s enthusiasm for progressive technology, which was already evident in the first prototype from 1919 and was later expressed in racing in a variety of engines and types that can at best be compared to that of the Japanese motorcycle giant Honda: At one time When other manufacturers still used separate gears and leather belts for power transmission and sniffer inlet valves, Guzzi’s and Parodi’s debut already had an interlocked engine / gearbox, chain final drive and four valves with an overhead camshaft. In the thirties, when single-cylinder, especially those from England, set the tone in racing, Moto Guzzi set new accents with the victory of the 500cc “Bicylindica” two-cylinder at the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man and showed that the train should go in a different direction, away from single. The two-cylinder Guzzi were followed by three, four and finally even eight-cylinder V-engines in 1955, the complexity of which can only be compared with Honda’s oval-piston NR 500 four-stroke engine, which is a quarter of a century younger. Today we come full circle. While the “big” 992 cubic centimeter V2 four-valve engine with gasoline injection in the company’s Centauro, which has already become a classic, should attract new groups of buyers in the next few years, the more distant future belongs to the “small”, 749 cubic centimeter engine: at IFMA in At the Guzzi stand in Cologne, the prototype of the “Ippogrifo” (horse griffin) with petrol injection could be admired. Its engine, which looks like that of the older V 75, is actually a new design that was originally only intended to serve as a drive for small, remote-controlled missiles – until its systems were recognized as promising for use in a motorcycle. Sales start: Probably 1998. The aviation enthusiast Carlo Guzzi would not have done it differently. And also in Hammelbach, Hesse, home of the Mororrad enthusiast Roth, the circle closes again. The new Moto Guzzi importer MGI will be based in the small community in the Odenwald. It was Fritz Roth who organized the import of Moto Guzzi into the Federal Republic in 1968 – followed by Motobècane and its less fortunate successor organization A.&G. On October 1, 1996, a press release announced the facts: Moto Guzzi is leaving the sales company A, which is operated jointly with Aprilia&G and founds the new German importer MGI with Fritz and his son Martin Roth as co-partners – based in Hammelbach.

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The emperor’s new eagle

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Moto Guzzi is daring a fresh start in Germany (archive version) – «Germany is more important to us than the USA ??

Moto Guzzi President Mario Tozzi Condivi, Managing Director Arnolfo Sacchi and Martin Roth, co-partner and managing director of the German importer MGI Motorcycle GmbH, answered questions from MOTORRAD. ? MOTORRAD would like to congratulate you on your new beginning. What were the exact reasons? Sacchi: In the past we had great difficulties in production and with the quality of our products. But the great loyalty of the Guzzi drivers gave us the courage to make a fresh start. ? How did you come up with the idea of ​​looking for a collaboration with the Roths again? Sacchi: Zweirad-Roth-GmbH set up the first successful Moto Guzzi import in Germany back in the seventies. Since we started working with Aprilia in company A&G, the Roths were our first choice.? What results do you expect from the separation from Aprilia and this collaboration? Tozzi Condivi: Germany is the most important sales market for us, ahead of the USA. We trust the Roths to develop this market even more successfully on their own. MGI is supported in this by our new control system and the “Moto Guzzi After Sales Manager”: We will no longer leave a part that we have not checked and certified.? How many motorcycles does Moto Guzzi currently produce? Sacchi: In 1996 we will manufacture 6,500 motorcycles. About half of it is California. We should be able to produce 20,000 motorcycles a year by the year 2000.? Are you going to act like your competitor Triumph in England, who manufactures a lot in-house? Tozzi Condivi: We have other competitors. We also include Harley-Davidson. But no: supplier companies produce many things better and cheaper than we could ever do. Outsourcing is no longer a taboo for us. Roth: There are three levels that had to be improved: Moto Guzzi management, products and sales. The first two levels are Moto Guzzi’s task. But the third will be ours. And what do the products of the future look like at Moto Guzzi? Sacchi: »The Centauro is the first step. The Ippogrifo 750, which will follow in 1998, is the next. But we have three more motorcycles in preparation that will give the model range a huge boost. Let yourself be surprised.”

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